Reliable mail delivery is essential
Americans rely on timely mail delivery for letters, packages, checks, medications and more

New threats to the U.S. Postal Service now challenge this essential service.   Ongoing budget troubles have been further exacerbated by the pandemic and a precipitous drop in the use of first class mail.  Add to that a new Postmaster General, a political appointee, who is making sweeping changes that reduce services, has endangered the ability of the Postal Service to manage mail-in voting

Louis DeJoy, a businessman and major fundraiser for President Trump, took over the duties of Postmaster General on June 15, succeeding retiring Meagan Brennan, a career postal employee.  DeJoy and his wife hold assets of between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in USPS competitors, including UPS and trucking company J.B. Hunt.

Since his appointment, DeJoy has dramatically altered postal operations.  Twenty-three senior staff have been reassigned.  Overtime has been eliminated, and carriers have been instructed to leave mail behind in the distribution center, rather than pick up and distribute late mail, as has been the protocol in the past.  Election mail, previously regarded as priority mail, will now be sent bulk rate unless it has priority postage.  And, throughout the country, large quantities of mailboxes have been removed,** post office hours have been reduced, staff vacancies remain unfilled due to a hiring freeze, and high-speed mail sorting machines have been removed from distribution centers.

These changes have resulted in delays in receiving important mail and packages.  During a pandemic, the ability of the USPS to deliver mail in a timely fashion is more important than ever.  Mailing a letter from my local post office to another address within the same ZIP code once took a single day to arrive.  Currently, that same delivery takes 3-4 business days.  For people who live in remote, rural areas served best by the USPS, on-time delivery of prescription drugs, social security checks, and other important mail is at risk. 

Once, it seemed that the end game was to raise the prices for delivery by independent vendors such as Amazon, or to privatize the postal service so that it would be controlled as a profitable business rather than a government service.  But more recently, the end goal appears to be to cast doubt on the ability of the USPS to safely deliver ballots for the November election, and therefore, to question the results.  A pandemic relief bill, approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, includes funding relief for the beleaguered postal service, but no agreement has been reached with the Senate.  Additional needed funding is at risk.

On Aug. 13 on Fox Business News, President Trump cast further threats to the U.S. Postal Service, noting that he is opposed to any bill that would provide support for mail-in balloting.  “Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots.  If we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it.”

While it is a mystery why the USPS, a federal agency subject to oversight by Congress, receives no funding other than through its own sales of stamps, products, and package delivery, it is even more puzzling why it is not recognized as a critical service that has previously operated efficiently and provided good customer service.  A Pew Research Center survey, taken in April 2020, reaffirms that the USPS had a 91% approval rating, higher than any other federal agency.   The U.S. Postal Service is here to serve all Americans.  While this saga is far from over, here are a few tips for moving forward:  

  • Mail your notes, letters, birthday cards, packages, etc. early.  Turnaround time is much longer than it was just a short few months ago.
  • Stay safe and register to vote by mail. 
  • While voting by mail, allow at least a week for your ballot to be delivered. 
  • If you live in a state where election drop boxes or polling places will accept your mail-in ballot, use this option if time is too short to use the mail-back option.
  • Consider stocking up on stamps.  Postal rates for commercial packages have recently seen a temporary hike.

We deserve to have a postal service that continues to serve everyone, no matter their location, with on-time delivery.  This saga is not over.  Urge your local and Congressional representatives to provide the needed funding and end the threats to the U.S. Postal Service.


** Amid criticism, USPS says it will stop removing collection boxes for 90 days by Paul Murphy, Kevin Bohn and Sarah Westwood, CNN Aug. 16, 2020

Fact Check:  New Postmaster General Invested in Postal Services Competitors by Chelsea Cox.  USA Today, Aug. 13, 2020

Louis DeJoy.  Wikipedia

Postal Service memos detail “Difficult” changes, including slower mail delivery by Jocob Bogage. The Washington Post, July 14, 2020.

Postal Service overhauls leadership as Democrats press for investigation of mail delays by Jacob Bogage.  The Washington Post, Aug. 7, 2020

Trump administration taking unusual steps to put its stamp on Postal Service ahead of November elections by Jeremy Herb and Jessica Dean.  CNN, Aug. 6, 2020

Trump rips Dems for holding up coronavirus stimulus deal with demand for post office by Megan Henny. Fox Business News, Aug. 13, 2020Megan Henny.  Fox Business News, Aug. 13, 2020

Trump says Postal Service needs money for mail-in voting, but he’ll keep blocking funding by Jacob Bogage.  The Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2020

Trump says Postal Service needs money for mail-in voting, but he’ll keep blocking funding by Jacob Bogage. The Washington Post, Aug. 12, 2020

Trump says he’s blocking Postal Service funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting during pandemic by Felicia Sonmez and Jacob Bogage.  The Washington Post, Aug. 13, 2020

Trump’s Attack on the Postal Service is a Threat to Democracy – and to Rural America by Bill McKibben.  The New Yorker, Aug. 11, 2020

U.S. Postal Service Tops List Again as Americans’ Favorite Government Agency. USPS Newsroom, April 15, 2020

U.S. Postmaster General. Wikipedia

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